Fortunately for Patriots, their competitors are leaving nitwits to coach much-improved teams

Alex Reimer
March 18, 2019 - 11:53 am

The Browns and Jets are the winners of NFL free agency so far. Insert joke here about that’s why Lombardi Trophies are handed out in February, and not March.

But those smarmy jokes don’t detract from the fact both teams have improved significantly over the last week. Cleveland, which won five of its last eight contests, added one of the best (and enigmatic) receivers in the game and also acquired Sheldon Richardson and Olivier Vernon to bolster its defensive line. The idea of an offense centered around Baker Mayfield, OBJ, Jarvis Landry, David Njoku and Kareem Hunt –– once he returns from his eight-game suspension for domestic violence –– is enough to make any football fan salivate. 

It’s also a reminder there’s only one ball to go around, and lots of players who will demand touches. It will be a delicate balance for second-year QB Mayfield, who’s emotional in his own right, and he has … Freddie Kitchens leading the way. 

And therein lies the fortunate part for the Patriots. The disparity between the talent on the field and coaches on the sidelines for many NFL teams has seemingly never been greater. The Browns, who could come to Foxboro for the season opener, are entrusting this dynamic and combustible mix to a man who was their running backs coach to start last season. Kitchens has never been a head coach at any level, serving as either a running back or tight ends coach up until he took over offensive coordinator duties in 2018.

The Jets, who have added Le’Veon Bell, CJ Moseley and Jamison Crowder, will have freshly recycled reject Adam Gase manning the sidelines. The man didn’t blink in his first press conference and turned Miami into an “awful” place to play, according to Landry

Plus, Gregg Williams will be the Jets’ defensive coordinator, and his son is on the staff, too, despite Gase’s reported objections.

If the Jets don’t explode on the field, they almost certainly will on the sidelines.

Sam Darnold showed promise in his rookie season, and according to our beloved tabloid troll Manish Mehta, will be the best QB in the AFC East this year. The optimism is endearing, and also seems like something Gase could squash really quickly.

The Patriots may have only made nominal improvements to their barren receiving corps so far, but once again, we know they’ll be better prepared than most of their competition. Many of these games are won before Bill Belichick can even notice whether the roof is open or closed for kick-off